Today’s readers of science fiction and fantasy have an appetite for stories that address a wide variety of voices, perspectives, and styles. There is an openness to experiment and pushing boundaries, combined with the classic desire to read about space ships and dragons, future technology and ancient magic, and the places where they intersect. Contemporary science fiction and fantasy looks to accomplish the same goal as ever—to illuminate what it means to be human. With a diverse selection of stories chosen by series editor John Joseph Adams and guest editor N. K. Jemisin, The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 explores the ever-expanding and changing world of SFF today, with Jemisin bringing her lyrical, endlessly curious point of view to the series’ latest edition.
Roth (Chosen Ones) balances Earth- and space-based futures in this superior anthology of 20 sci-fi shorts. Several of the most powerful tales use current societal preoccupations to sketch alarming possible consequences. In "The Pill," Meg Elison imagines that Big Pharma has developed a medication that can eliminate obesity and thoughtfully examines the dystopian effects of a society where choosing to remain overweight becomes a liability and what happens to those whose lives aren't really changed by the drug. Karin Lowachee's "Survival Guide" explores what happens to students taught by an A.I. neural network that seems to improve comprehension but may be turning them into docile sheep in the process. And a devastating disease tests medical ethics in Karen Lord's timely "The Plague Doctors." The high point of the extraterrestrial entries, meanwhile, is Gene Doucette's "Schr dinger's Catastrophe," in which a spaceship wanders into a section of the universe governed by different laws of physics. With these phenomenal selections, Roth nimbly demonstrates the genre's continued potential for rich ideas.